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Piracy causes Google to yank Kodi from its autocomplete list in search results

In Google’s ongoing crusade to eliminate ties to piracy in search results, the company removed the search term “Kodi” from its autocomplete list. Those who type in the term won’t see a list of suggestions related to the popular tool or associated software, but instead will see results tied to the term “Kodiak,” such as Kodiak Bear and Kodiak Cakes. 

What’s Google’s problem with Kodi? “Since 2011, we have been filtering certain terms closely associated with copyright infringement from Google Autocomplete. This action is consistent with that long-standing strategy,” a spokesperson said. 

Kodi is an open-source home theater software solution developed for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Raspberry Pi, and Xbox One. It’s a network-capable tool for managing and streaming your favorite music, movies, TV shows, and photos on any device that supports the software. You can either view media stored on your device or push all media to a centralized storage unit connected to the network that’s accessible by all devices. 

Google’s beef with Kodi is that the software supports third-party add-ons. Developers can create add-ons granting full access to pirated content, or free access to video services that typically require a monthly subscription. Kodi itself is not illegal software; it’s a media organizer and playback tool that, unfortunately, can be used for illegal purposes. 

To throw Kodi even further into the piracy spotlight, fully loaded “Kodi boxes” are on the rise: Miniature computers with Kodi pre-installed and loaded with add-ons linking to pirated content and services. The team brought the rising problem to the attention of Kodi users more than two years ago, warning that these sellers and YouTube promoters are killing the brand.  

“These sellers are dragging users into the world of piracy without their knowledge and at the same time convincing new users that Kodi is a buggy mess because they never differentiate Kodi from third-party add-ons. Every day a new user shows up on the Kodi forum, totally unaware that the free movies they’re watching have been pirated and surprised to discover that Kodi itself isn’t providing those movies,” the Kodi team said at the time. 

Because of their nature, add-ons linked to piracy often break. The big scam with these “fully loaded” Kodi Boxes is that customers will purchase the device and discover broken add-ons. These disgruntled customers can’t get their money back because the seller simply vanished. 

Kodi can’t seem to escape its association with piracy. The team stays neutral regarding what users do with the media player, but clearly doesn’t “love this use of Kodi.” The team also recently said it was “surprised and disappointed” over Google blacklisting the “Kodi” term in auto search results. 

“We have a professional relationship with the MPAA, who have specifically made clear in the past their own position that Kodi is legal software,” XBMC Foundation President Nathan Betzen said in a statement. “We hope Google will reconsider this decision in the future, or at a minimum limit their removal to search terms where the legality is actually in dispute.” 

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